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Let’s finish the school year on a high!

 Just a few more weeks to go until the end of the year but right now, the energy level in the classroom is running low. And yes, I know. We need to make sure that our students will do their very best in the final test. But what can we do to boost their motivation and go out with a bang?

When in doubt, I always turn to my network and ask them. This is what we came up with:

1.- Step aside from the coursebook for a day and try someone else’s lesson plan.

There are so many great lesson plans out there which are linked to short videos or reading texts. All of them come with student worksheets, full teacher’s notes and links to the material. Check out Silvina Mascitti’s website EFL Creative Ideas for some amazing ‘good-to-go’ lessons. ‘Are you a foodie?’ will get even the most reticent talking about their tastes in food but be warned, don’t do this just before lunchtime or there’ll be trouble! ‘The Bystander’ is more serious and considers whether we can really walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. If appropriate for your class, it will certainly get those thinking skills going.

2.- Get the class involved in a project

What’s not to like about a project? While most modern coursebooks now include them, let me tell you about my own personal favourite. Tell the students that they’re about to go on an adventure (real or made-up) and they’ll need to plan it. The first step is to decide on a destination. Will it be a staycation, or will they be going further afield? Encourage the students to study a map and figure out their route. Once that’s decided, they’ll need to do some online research and create an itinerary. They could even look for suitable accommodation on one of the many review sites out there. When the groups are ready, they should present their trip to the class. A class vote on the best one might seem like the obvious next move, but perhaps encouraging the students to comment positively on each one would be a more inclusive approach. The group who gets the fewest votes is unlikely to leave that class on a high.

3.- Give a new speaking activity a go

After a full academic year, our students’ heads should now be full of lots of lovely new language, we hope! It’s about time we activated it and what better than a speaking activity? My favourite role-play is where a group of neighbours clash over a contentious issue, for example, there’s a new piece of graffiti on one of the walls. Some of them would like to remove it and find the culprits and bring them to book while others think it’s art and would like to keep it.

The activity begins with the students creating roles for themselves: They should decide on their age, occupation and opinion. Then, recreate a block of flats in the classroom. For example, one corner could represent the exterior of the building, another could be the entrance hall, another the lift and the fourth could be one of the corridors, or possibly the front door of the head of the local neighbourhood association! The students in their roles then move around the different places, sharing their thoughts and opinions. After some time, call the students together for a more formal meeting of neighbours. You’ll need to decide on a chairperson for the meeting and choose who will be giving formal speeches.

Have a look at the Noisy Classroom website for more ideas for speaking activities. Debates, elections and reality shows also work really well!

4.- Experiment with a digital tool

Yeah, I know! There are so many digital tools out there – Kahoot!, Bamboozle! And Quizlet to name but a few. So, here’s your challenge! Explore Russell Stannard’s Teacher Training Video website and find something you’ve never tried. Charlie’s Lessons has a video channel jam-packed with cool ideas to inject some sparkle back into your lessons. Try the ideas out in class and ask the students for feedback.

But hang on, aren’t we missing a trick here? Why not get the students to do some of the work? As a class, look for something new together, decide on the new digital tool and then in groups, design an appropriate activity which uses it.

5.- Hand over more responsibility for learning to the students

As above, we often rack our brains trying to find new activities or ideas for our students but isn’t it time to get them to do some of this work? Besides this is a great ‘learning to learn’ opportunity as long as we are still there to guide and support.

The final exam is fast approaching so why not get the students to design a revision activity for their classmates? Organise them into groups and assign a unit of work to each one. They could either create a worksheet or they could use a digital tool like Kahoot! or Bamboozle! or even the new tool you found in #4 to create an activity for the others to use. Remember to encourage the students to give constructive feedback on each other’s work.

6.- Throw in an element of surprise

Let your imagination run wild! For example, teach the class backwards by setting the homework first. Or wear an odd pair of socks to class and see if the students notice. Alternatively, if you keep a face spray on your desk for hot, muggy days, spray one of your students instead.

We’d love to hear how you’ll be ending the year on a high. 

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